Hi there, web peoples. Recently, there’s been more negative chatter online about Facebook and WhatsApp and social media in general, even Big Tech. As usual, my use of Facebook in particular waxes and wanes. Lately, I’ve been re-evaluating my account. Will I keep it, or delete it for the Nth time?
One thought is, well, I could delete my Facebook account – again. It’s easy! I’ve done it like 4 or 5 times in the past 12 years! Seriously. I have.
It’s like the infamous joke about quitting smoking – it’s easy and you can quit anytime. It’s true!
Using Facebook is like smoking. Let that sink in.
But it sure isn’t easy to stay quit for good. I always end up being drawn back to Facebook, to those connections, to family, to relationships, and even the Marketplace. After a few months being totally free from the Book of Faces, I forget the bad parts and miss the good parts. Then I rejoin.
I know that if I delete my Facebook account, then I will likely end up returning. So I will not nuke it from orbit at this time.
But this doesn’t mean I must remain a Facebook User. For a while, I’ve mostly been ignoring or avoiding it. So I’m more of a Facebook Account Holder. A non-active user. I also won’t Deactivate it. It’s there when I want to check in.
The thing that has helped me is that I deleted the Facebook app and the Messenger app from my phone last Fall. And I have no desire to reinstall. I recommend keeping the app off your phone.
All that said, there’s still a chance I will delete my Facebook account in the future. I have no qualms about pulling the plug. Things about Facebook would have to get worse. And frankly, I think things will do just that. Facebook will likely deteriorate…
If more people leave Facebook for other alternatives, then the network effect will weaken to the point where being on Facebook will be pointless. Then I could shake the dust off my feet as I too exit Zuckerburg’s social network.
For now, I’ll just keep social distancing from Facebook.
Like many, you’re probably weary of Facebook and Twitter. They’ve taken their toll on society. I know I’ve felt it. Their cultural influence is more bad than good; they need transformation. So I was stoked to find a concise booklet on the subject that resonated with me. After reading the first chapter, I felt like deleting Twitter!
Rating: 5 out of 5.
As a blogger, my favorite parts of The Social Media Upheaval by Glenn Reynolds are at the beginning where the author contrasts early internet blogging with modern social media. He makes great points about their differences to show how blogging is a better form of digital communication. Pumps fists!
Along this line, Reynolds also contrasts social media with broadcast TV and radio to explain the problem with info transmission platforms like Facebook and Twitter. It’s because of the added interaction.
This non-fiction booklet is more like a really long blog post. You can read it in one sitting, take notes, and end up with a good idea of how social media should be transformed. And if you’re not already convinced that social media has caused upheaval or needs to be upheaved itself, you will be.
To that end, if you know someone who is unaware of the downsides of social media, this book might be worth handing to them. Maybe they’ve sensed a problem but can’t quite put their finger on it. This book shines the spotlight as needed.
The first part of the book focuses on the fundamental weaknesses of social media, that it’s:
The second part of the book discusses the way to transform social media: Regulation. There are five types with pros and cons explained:
End online anonymity
Remove section 230 immunity
Increase user scrutiny
Increase content scrutiny
But these types of regulation are content or speech regulation, which overall do not work well enough.
So in the third part of the book, the author proposes the only type of regulation that will work: Anti-Trust.
The arguments are straightforward and easy to understand. The author makes as clear a case I’ve heard. I’m convinced that policing speech on social media is a bad idea and that policing whole platforms by breaking them up into smaller ones is best.
I also agree with the author that social media can be safely ignored otherwise. We don’t need Facebook or Twitter to exist. The internet works fine without them, and society can too. Dismantling cancerous social media monoliths into small benign parts makes sense.
With increasing awareness of social media upheaval, in both the general public and mass media, and with recent gestures towards antitrust regulation in the federal government, I am hopeful that social media transformation will begin soon. It might start today!
Books like this one by Reynolds add fuel to the fire for social media reform. If you’re aware of other similar books, please let me know!
I just wanna share a few things about blogging and social media. Because it’s a thing I like to do. Like drinking Dunkin’ Donuts I guess. It gets me buzzin’!
My last post was a 3-part series about transforming social media, so this topic has been at the forefront of my mind. Is that the frontal lobe place? Wherever. It’s in there, and the caffeine has access to it, ‘nuff said.
So with that, I want to share three other perspectives about social media. These three basically underscore my original impetus for writing that 3-part series: social media should just end.
The first article that you should read (after you finish mine, of course) is called Bring Back Web 1.0.
It is awesome.
The writing is very…inviting. I wanted to cozy up and listen to more. I almost skipped it; sure glad I didn’t. Read: don’t skip it. It may appeal to older folks like me due to nostalgia. But read it nonetheless and educate yourself a bit. (Then go watch “You’ve Got Mail” starring Tom Hanks.)
The second article is by author and blogger, Cheri Baker, who resides in Seattle (far different climate than my West Texas flavor). I somehow discovered her post last year, Can we make the internet fun again? The answer is…I’ll let you go read her post to find out!
Cheri’s article did that thing to me where your mind tingles like a struck tuning fork. (Sorry, my simile powers are feeling weak at the moment, like most moments.)
And now the third article, which I found via Cheri’s blog post (see, there’s that wonderful link-a-doodle thing again). It’s written in the New York Post by none other than Cal Newport, one of my internet idols. He’s a computer tech nerd-geek, like me, who never had a social media account, unlike me.
You see, I’m trying out micro.blog and have looked into the IndieWeb a lot. I like to think I’m tech savvy, but even some of that stuff intimidates me. But anyways, Cal in his article, Can “Indie” Social Media Save Us?, superbly lays out his thoughts on the matter.
The answer, this time I’ll say, is a qualified “Yes.” The IndyWeb can save social media, but not at the large scale of current social media. It’s smaller, more niche, and that is a strength if you ask me.
“Despite its advantages, however, I suspect that the IndieWeb will not succeed in replacing existing social-media platforms at their current scale.”
On top of that, more importantly, Cal says that most people by this point, wary of social media in general, just won’t be interested in any other new form of it. They will move on. Some already have!
“It may be, too, that people who are uneasy about social media aren’t looking for a better version of it but are instead ready to permanently reduce the role that smartphone screens play in their lives.”
That’s good! This is what I hope for and what I think is happening. People feel disenchanted by the big social networks. And rather than trying a new or different one, they likely won’t care to try at all. Who would blame them?
In my 3 part article, although I had set out to say social media should be eradicated, I ended up thinking it was unlikely that people would abandon social media. We’re all too addicted. It’s too sticky.
So I reasoned that since we’re likely stuck with social media, then it must be transformed into a far better version than what’s current. The IndyWeb-principled micro.blog and the like are potential alternatives.
But as Cal Newport wrote in the New Yorker, maybe people really are so disillusioned with social media that they’re willing to wean off their dopamine addiction. That means everyone can still surf the underlying open web outside the social media silos.
Just Say No To Drugs
Let’s take this back to blogs, because I’m still enchanted with them. Blogging, web 1.0, is still around. And like the linked article states, blogs only die off as much as bloggers allow themselves to get sucked into the pithy drivel of social media. I’m guilty of that!
I started to refocus on my blogging. I’ve socialmediadistanced. And now I’m about to do a hard thing. You see, I deleted the Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp apps from my phone. And I’ve even deleted those services entirely before.
But the one I’ve always held onto is Twitter. So to go with my 30 day trial break-time from social media, I am now deleting the Twitter app from my phone! My daily dose of dopamine and snark is about to come to a screeching halt! I’m skeered. 😐
In part 1 of this article, I talked about the bad and ugly side of Social Media that overshadows the good side. The question there was to either remove or improve the social networks.
Part 2 talked about removing Social Media altogether because of its negative effects on society.
Now it’s time for part 3: improving Social Media. But that’s a soft word. Let’s say: transforming.
Social media needs a paradigm shift!
New Social Media
At this point, it’s unlikely Twitter or Facebook will disappear. According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook can be killed, but only by a superior social network (No Filter by Sarah Frier, pg 64).
These networks are entrenched in society; they span the globe. Indeed, we’re entangled in a world wide web. Facebook and Twitter are not just websites, they’re cultural centers of communication. They’re planetary town halls. They are woven into the fabric of culture, for better and for worse.
If Social Media persists, there must be radical new ways to do it:
Only paid subscriptions; no advertising-supported models.
Only real names; no pseudonyms.
Only individual people; no brands, companies or business pages.
Only individual profiles; no universal aggregated feed.
Only group feeds; small administered groups of people would have their own feed.
These ideas are necessary to try because the ways we’ve been doing Social Media continue to fail.
The New Face Of Facebook
Facebook can take radical change for the better. You and I can keep using it; we won’t need to change, Facebook will.
First, no more Newsfeed; just kill it. Go back to the original Facebook that had only profiles of everyone.
The new Social Media rejects the Newsfeed or Timeline. If I want to see what my friend said or did over the weekend, I click on his/her profile! It would be like simple blogs or tumblogs without the overhead.
For convenience, small groups could have a feed. Individual users who manage the group would moderate the feed. The feed is optional, turned off by default.
Second, no more ads. Charge $1 per month per person. I’m sure most of the 2 billion people using Facebook right now can afford that. So that would be $2 billion dollars a month in revenue from Facebook Subscribers! That is serious business.
A Facebook Subscription model would work like Netflix. You pay monthly – just $1! – for the network, and at any time you may cancel.
And your profile is saved. So if you want to return after a 2 month hiatus, no problem! Just log in and flip the payment switch. Buy some Facebook one month at a time. Take a break when you need to.
But what if Mark Zuckerberg is unwilling to change Facebook? Then you and I should move to a better platform. What other social networks are there besides Facebook and Twitter?
New social networks with real growth potential have launched before, threatening Facebook. Either Facebook copies them (SnapChat) or buys them (Instagram). Or they implode (Google+, Path)
But there are two new networks that aim to do things better: AllSocial and Bokeh.
The Facebook/Twitter Alternative
AllSocial abolishes the algorithm; it’s in opposition to Facebook. You get a user profile, and there’s a universal feed. But in that feed, you see every single post from every single friend in chronological order! There is no algorithm filtering or sorting anything. While there is content moderation, there is no censorship.
This network is young. So if you join now, you might get the username you want, like I did! Here’s my new profile.
Maybe I’ve been too focused on the negative effects of Social Media. To be fair, I could talk more about the utility, convenience, and fun of scrolling the Newsfeed.
But if it’s fun entertainment I’m after, then you and I both know there are far better ways to enjoy it outside of Facebook. YouTube much? Or better yet, take up a new hobby.
And though we like the utility of Facebook Groups or Marketplace, those services are elsewhere too. But they’re often overlooked. And if they don’t exist, it’s because there’s no chance for them to compete against the leviathans of Social Media.
There are real benefits to a universal platform where anyone can say or publish anything. Much good comes from such freedom of expression. Social Media is sometimes a helpful change agent.
But it’s not the only change agent, and it’s not the best. Worse is the unprecedented power of Facebook. Its vast global reach is under the ultimate control of one person. This is precarious; it could be perilous. Who can change this mighty change agent?
In any case, Social Media must change. We must transform it because it causes more harm than help in society.
So don’t hesitate to consider other social networks. Think about joining AllSocial or Bokeh. I know your friends and family might not be on those networks; maybe they’d never switch. I get it.
Change is hard, and when “everybody” is on Facebook, there’s too much inertia from the network effect to break free. It’s a real issue! But is that issue insurmountable? And is that issue greater than the negative effects of Social Media on everybody?
Talk to your friends and family. Open a good discussion (not on Facebook) about starting fresh on a new and improved social network. Invite them out for coffee and politely ask if they think current Social Media is a net negative or positive. Share this 3 part article with them.
You’ve got to give change a chance.
You are the change agent. For the better. And for the best.
We’re talking about living with Social Media for better or worse. Part 1 of this article showed the overwhelming downsides of Twitter or Facebook. We’ve tolerated and suffered them long enough.
We asked the question, should we remove social networks or improve them?
In this Part 2, I say remove Social Media. But remove is a soft word. Instead, let’s say: eradicate, abolish, and abandon.
No Social Media
I first joined Facebook in 2009 and have been using Social Media ever since. Years of privacy scandals, election tampering, misinformation, and fake news hurt society. Mixing that with funny memes, dad jokes, cat videos, baby pictures, and travel photos is jarring. Doesn’t your mind feel assaulted when scrolling the feed?
Social Media: the pros don’t outweigh the cons.
Despite the good stuff you and I enjoy on Facebook or Twitter, all the bad stuff is too much. The negativity is too negative. And it spreads like a pandemic virus across the globe! Why is negativity so viral? The downsides of Social media are too detrimental to our society.
We should eradicate Social Media from our culture and daily life.
My normal response to Facebook when it gets sour is to disengage.
Then I delete my account!
But since I always return to the platform, I do not plan to #deletefacebook this time.
In the past, I’d hoped that enough people would delete their accounts to cause a mass exodus. The network effect would kick in. If enough people left Facebook, then everyone else would follow along and leave too. It would become a ghost town and get shut down.
The problem is that everyone would end up on another Social Media platform. Then we’d have all the same people and all the same problems.
Back on our soapboxes, discord would be sown again. We’d reap a new harvest of civil unrest. Do people tend to agree-to-disagree on Facebook? Is Twitter a place where we compromise our agendas?
This is why we must abolish or abandon Social Media. We must avoid the degradation of society.
Connecting the world together reveals and exacerbates our differences and facilitates division. We want to moderate other people’s opinions when deemed as bad speech. But we feel we’re muted when our own posts are moderated. It’s decried as censorship, and the ranting escalates.
We’d be better off without the global megaphone of Social Media.
But can we live without Social Media these days? Yes, we can.
And there are advantages to living without the silos of social networks, like privacy and control of your personal data. On those lines, the IndyWeb movement fundamentally upholds the free and open web.
These old and new forms of social networking also have their pros and cons. But given our current state of Social Media, it’s time you and I understand and consider alternatives. Our very own democracy may be at stake.
Improve Social Media
If Social Media is too entrenched to be expunged, then we must find a New Way to network on the web. We must change how Social Media works.
Can we erase and replace Facebook and Twitter? Are social networks broken beyond repair?